Your Friend, The Rubric — How rubrics can assist you as a college instructor

by Rich Shumate
Ph.D. Student/Teaching Assistant, University of Florida

Rich Shumate

Rich Shumate

Rubrics can an effective tool to use for assignments that are being assessed subjectively, including writing assignments, term papers, performances, photography or artwork, and journalism.

Even though you are grading subjectively, rubrics can provide structure to your grading to make is less subjective.

Rubrics also provide consistency to your grading, which makes if fairer for students.

A rubric can also set expectations for your students if they are given the rubric before they begin work. However, some instructors see giving rubrics to students with their assignments as too much hand-holding, and students may concentrate more on fulfilling the requirements of the rubric than thoughtfully completing the assignment.

Rubrics make grading easier by making it more systematic.

Rubrics should be written in language the students understand; they should match student learning outcomes, and the verbs used should derive from Bloom’s Taxonomy.


Callison, D. (2000) Rubrics. School Library Monthly, 17(2), 34-42.

De La Paz, S. (2009). Rubrics: Heuristics for developing writing strategies, Assessment for Effective Intervention, 34(3), 134-146. Downloaded from

Svinicki, M. D., McKeachie, W. J., & McKeachie, W. J. (2014). McKeachie’s Teaching Tips:Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Salkind, N. J. (Ed.). (2008). Encyclopedia of educational psychology. (Vols. 1-2). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Rich Shumate is a doctoral student in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida and a student in Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930). He also maintains the Chicken Fried Politics blog.


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